Friday, August 18, 2017


An Indian Teen of the 1800s

The whaling ships and others who visited Guam in the 1800s brought people here from all corners of the world.

Take, for example, a 16-year-old man named Sheg Apdug. He was from Calcutta (modern-day Kolkata) and was brought to Guam on George H. Johnston's schooner, the Ana, in 1865. Johnston was married to Ana Olivares Calvo, of the Calvo clan that settled in the Marianas. More than likely, Johnston recruited Sheg to work on his schooner out of Hong Kong, which Johnston would visit once in a while. Sheg was Christian, by the way; a Protestant. It could be that he was taken in by Christian sponsors, or a church, in India or Hong Kong. He wasn't educated in a Christian school, though, because at age 16 he still wasn't able to sign his name.

José Aguon Herrero was his sponsor on Guam. I am not sure whatever became of Sheg. If he stayed, married and had children, we should see some evidence of that in the records, but we don't. It could be he eventually left Guam. As easily as many came, many left.

Sheg wasn't the first Indian who lived on Guam.

In 1638, the Spanish galleon the Concepción sank off the southern coast of Saipan. A Lorenzo Malabar was a survivor who remained in the Marianas all the way till the arrival of Sanvtores in 1668. As a layman, he joined Sanvitores' missionary crew. Malabar isn't his family name. It describes him as coming from the region of Malabar in India. Located in southwestern India, Malabar had many Christians.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Chamorro man on right with Carolinian men, early 1900s
NMC Archives

As the island had been depopulated of its native Chamorros by the 1740s, when the Spanish authorities moved the Saipan Chamorros down to Guam, where they mixed and became indistinguishable from the Guam Chamorros, the Spanish government allowed Carolinians to settle in Saipan in the early 1800s. The generally accepted date is around 1815.

That was only the beginning. People from islands such as Satawal, Woleai, Eauripik and many others continued to move to Saipan for the rest of the century into the early 1900s.

By the 1850s, the Spanish officials in Guam wanted to bring the Carolinians more and more into the cultural and religious environment the Spaniards had established on Guam and Rota. So the Spaniards sent a Chamorro teacher from Guam to Saipan; they organized the Carolinians into a community with their own leaders holding Spanish colonial titles; they sent a priest to establish a church on Saipan.

There were no forced conversions at the point of a spear or gun barrel. But the resident priest, and the handful of Chamorro settlers, did encourage the Carolinians to consider baptism, especially for their children if there was danger of death. In time, the children were regularly brought to the priest for baptism, even when the parents remained unbaptized!

Who, then, were to be the godparents of these Carolinian children (and adults, too!). In the 1850s and 60s, it was the Chamorros from Guam and Luta who moved to Saipan who acted as godparents for the Carolinians. This shows that the two groups did interact with each other and formed some bonds. For most of the 1800s, the Carolinians were the majority group in Saipan, until the late 1800s and early 1900s when both a higher Chamorro birthrate and increased movement of Guam Chamorros to Saipan between 1890 and 1914 pushed the Chamorro population higher than the Carolinian.

Here are some early Carolinian baptisms, with the names of their Chamorro godparents :


Mónica Mangud
Mónica Pangelinan

Mariano Metao
Mariano Arriola

Pedro Failimas, 14 years old
Mariano Paulino, alcalde (mayor) of Saipan*
Gregorio Rangamar, infant
Father from Satawal
Mother from Elato
Gregorio Perez, of Agaña
Carmen Parong, infant
Father from Olou
Mother from Satawal
Carmen de los Santos, of Agaña
Antonio Kileleman
Parents from Satawal
Antonio de Torres, of Agaña

Benigno Kaipat, infant
Rodrigo de Castro, of Agaña

Ana Pialur, infant
Ana de los Reyes, of Agaña

Dolores Olopai, 8 months old
Dolores Lizama
Ana Selepeo, 4 years old
Maria Mangloña, of Rota

Jose Laniyo, 3 years old

Eugenio Cepeda
Basilio Rapugao, adult, in danger of death
Basilio Gogue, of Agaña


  • Many of the Carolinians took on the Christian name of the godparent. Most, if not all, Carolinians maintain the tradition of carrying their Carolinian given names to this day, even if those names are not seen on birth certificates and are used only inside the family, clan or close associates.
  • The majority of the godparents came from Agaña, a few (not shown here) from other villages of Guam (Agat and Sumay, for example) and a tiny number from Rota
  • I have modernized the Carolinian names so they can be identifiable to modern generations; the Spaniards spelled some of these names in very unique ways!
  • Not all the Chamorros in Saipan at the time stayed there. Gregorio Perez (whom I suspect was the founder of the Goyo clan, but I have no proof for this) did not remain in Saipan for the rest of his life. There is no trace of him in the Saipan documents later on.
* Mariano Paulino was not Chamorro. The founder of the Paulino clan of Guam, he was a Filipino who married a Chamorro, Maria Borja Aguon.

Monday, August 14, 2017

"MISS GUAM 1830"

Juliana's signature in 1864

I say that in jest, of course, as there were no beauty contests on Guam in 1830.

But it does suggest that Juliana Aguon was a beautiful woman, who captured the hearts of four Spaniards, more or less one right after the other!

Some suggest that she was born in 1805. If that is not the exact year, then it is close enough. Juliana's "busy" years being pursued by Spaniards (or did she also pursue them?) seem to begin around 1825 when she would have been 20 years old or so.

An early suitor was no less than the Spanish Governor of the Marianas, José Ganga Herrero, who arrived on Guam in 1823. Apparently he already had a wife, but that didn't stop him and Juliana from having two sons. Perhaps he didn't bring his wife with him to Guam. In any case, the Governor legally recognized them as his sons, so they carried the Herrero surname. Although the Governor left Guam (amid a lot of controversy with his own Spanish government), his sons remained on Guam with Juliana and the family was later involved in government and commerce.

Another suitor was no less than a Spanish priest, who arrived on Guam in 1829. He eventually became the priest of Hagåtña. He had a daughter with Juliana named Dolores. The priest couldn't legally recognize her, so Dolores remained Dolores Aguon. Dolores eventually married Manuel Flores and their descendants are the Kabesa Flores clan. And I always noticed how many of the Kabesas have Spanish features! The priest died on Guam in 1843. The Kabesas have always been prominent on Guam in all aspects of public life.

Finally, Juliana got married. Her husband was the Spaniard Luís Portusach. They had a son Joaquín, and from him came the Portusach family of Guam, perpetuated by his sons José and Francisco. This family, too, was always involved in government and commerce.

We may as well go for a fourth! After Portusach died, Juliana married another Spaniard, Francisco Salar and had a daughter named Rita with him, so the Salar last name eventually disappeared in the Marianas when Rita got married.

So there you have it. At least four Spaniards became the fathers of Juliana's children. I would think that had Guam a beauty contest in 1830, Juliana would have been one of the prime candidates for that crown.

NOTE : When Juliana signed her name in 1864, even though she had been married to Portusach and then to Salar, she followed the Spanish custom whereby married women retained their birth names and did not take on their husband's surname.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


It isn't a surprise that José de la Cruz had a nickname. Names as common as his almost required a nickname, to help people distinguish WHICH of the many José de la Cruzes you were talking about.

What's surprising is that this José de la Cruz had a Mexican nickname.

In the 1832 document, this person's identity is, "José de la Cruz, alias 'el Guachinango.'"

Having an ear for regionalisms, I suspected it was Mexican. And sure enough, there is a town in the State of Jalisco in Mexico called Guachinango.

To make matters more interesting (or more complicated), guachinango can also mean a kind of fish (red snapper). In Cuban and Puerto Rican dialect, it can mean a clever person, a joker or a flatterer.

So why does this Chamorro guy have a nickname like this?

Well let's not assume he was Chamorro. In 1832, there very well could have been a Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican or just about any Latin American person living on Guam. But even if he were Chamorro, Mexican influence made a mark on the Chamorro language and culture in the 1700s. The Acapulco Galleons were passing through Guam until the time during Mexico's war for independence in 1815, not too long from 1832, the date of this document.

In some parts of the Philippines, gwatsinanggo means "shrewd" or "cunning," among other things, which follows one of the meanings of the word for in the Caribbean. The fact that the word made it even as far west as the Philippines makes it more credible that the word spread to the Marianas.

The fact is that our islands were always getting visitors from east and west and being influenced by them. Why José was called "El Guachinango" will remain a mystery.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Garapan in German Times (1899 - 1914)

Garapan was the only village in Saipan from the start of the resettlement by Carolinians sometime around 1815, until the founding of a second village, Tanapag, between 1879 and 1889. Still, Garapan remained the larger of the two villages and the seat of the island government.

By the time the Germans came in 1899, Garapan numbered close to 3000 people. The Chamorros and the Carolinians lived in separate sections. The Carolinians lived in the southern part of town.

Two partial church records indicate the names of some of the streets in Garapan. There may have been more streets named on a second or third list which have been lost, so we cannot say these were the only street names. But at least we know some.

The first record was made just at the end of German times (1914) and was written by a German priest. The second record was made in the early years of the Spanish Jesuit administration of the church, but it shows a continuity with the German records. There is no big change in names. The interesting thing is that, in 1923, the Japanese were already ruling Saipan and had their own street names. The street right along the beach was called Kaigan Dori in Japanese (Seacoast Street). But the priests continued to use the older, non-Japanese names for the streets, at least in these early years.

(Father Francisco Street)

This Father Francisco was Father Francisco Resano, the last Augustinian Recollect priest of Garapan, who departed Saipan in 1907 when the German Capuchin priests took over. Father Resano was also the last Augustinian Recollect priest of Hagåtña and left Guam only because the American Naval Governor Richard P. Leary expelled the Spanish Recollect priests from Guam in 1899. Resano left Guam and moved to Saipan.

Father Francisco Resano appears in the middle of this picture, in between two German Capuchins, and some Saipan residents at the sides, at the front door of Garapan's church in 1907.

(Spanish Street)

The Spaniards left the Marianas in 1899, but a street named after them maintained their memory, at least for a few more years.

(Macabebe Street)

This is an interesting one because it is named for a group of people the Saipanese were glad to get rid of! In early 1899, around 700 Filipino soldiers and their families from Macabebe, a town in the Philippines, arrived in Saipan. These soldiers were on the Spanish side of the war against both Americans and Filipino nationalists. Seeing how the war was ending with a Spanish defeat, these Filipinos who fought for Spain decided to escape for Saipan, still under Spanish control. The people of Saipan now had to house and feed 700 extra people and it wasn't easy. The military commander of the Macabebes was bossy and made the Saipan people obey his orders. When the Germans took over Saipan towards the end of 1899, the Saipan people rejoiced in seeing the Macabebes leave island. And yet there was a street named after them.

Macabebe soldiers on the ship taking them away from Saipan in 1899

(Gravel Street)

None of the streets were paved, in the modern sense, but not all, apparently, were covered with gravel.

(Bodeg Street)

"Bodeg" was the nickname given to a branch of the Ada family. Originally from Guam, the family moved to Saipan but, in time, some moved back to Guam and the Bodeg family can be found in both islands. True enough, the head of the Bodeg family, Pedro Pangelinan Ada, and his wife María Martínez, lived on Bodeg Street. Pedro had a large, two-storey mampostería (stone and mortar) house with a metal roof on this street.

A list of people living on Bodeg Street includes Pedro Ada and his wife María

(Gallego Street)

Although the German priest spelled it Callego, I am pretty sure he meant Gallego, as there is no word or name Callego in Chamorro or Spanish. But there is both a word and a name Gallego in Spanish and Chamorro. In Spanish, gallego means a person from Galicia, a province in Spain. In Chamorro, Gayego is the nickname of one branch of the Díaz family, found in Saipan but also elsewhere.

(Carolinian Street)

The German priest wrote this in German, and it means "Carolinian Street." The "Carolinians" are those islanders from many different islands in Micronesia such as Elato, Satawal, Lamotrek and Eauripik among many others. They began living in Saipan around the year 1815. For many years they were the majority race until the Chamorro population increased and became the majority.

Carolinian men of Saipan

(Laolao Street)

Another name given in German. Laolao is the name of the largest bay in Saipan, and it lies on the eastern part of the island. Many Westerners called it Magicienne Bay, after a British ship which anchored there in 1858. The area was heavily populated during the pre-contact time and there are remains of pre-contact villages there.

Laolao Bay

This is just to show that there were people not living on a street but rather on the beach or coast. Their houses were described as being on the oriyan tåsi (along the sea).

Monday, August 7, 2017


Filipina Mestizas

The 9000 or so people who made up the Marianas in the late 1800s were an interesting mix. In the rural villages and in Luta, the majority of the people had roots closer to the pre-contact race. In Hagåtña and Saipan, the mixed blood, or mestizo, dominated : a mix of the the original pre-contact race, Spaniards, Mexicans, Filipinos, Chinese, Anglo-Americans and smaller numbers of Portuguese, French, Dutch and others.

Not to be excluded from this melting pot of races was the mixed-blood, higher class Filipinas. There were at least two of them who lived in the Marianas in the second half of the 19th century.

Doña Regina Sigüenza y Soto was from Manila, the daughter of Don Agustín Sigüenza and Doña Silvia Soto. She was married to Don Vicente Calvo y Olivares, of the Calvo clan that eventually became part of the Chamorro community. Don Vicente was born in Manila of a Spanish father and mestiza mother. As his father, Don Félix, had a government position on Guam, Don Vicente lived on Guam also, but the Manila connection was never lost or weakened. The Calvos were constantly going back and forth between Guam and Manila.

As the Calvos were government officials and entrepreneurs, and very Spanish, they would have married within their class and milieu. Regina was almost certainly of a somewhat elevated class. We know from existing documents that she had her own financial affairs to attend to in Manila, separate from whatever her Calvo husband had. She filed to have someone in Manila represent her interests there, since she lived on Guam.

Regina Siguenza's signature
The Spanish custom is for married women to keep their family names

More than likely she would have had an education and was conversant in Spanish. Her racial lines are not precisely known, but her Spanish surnames and the fact that Spaniards and mestizos tended to marry women with at least some Spanish blood point in that direction.

As a widow, Doña Regina befriended William Safford, the Secretary to Guam's first American Naval Governor. The educated and erudite Safford spoke excellent Spanish. One can sense that Regina looked forward to her chats with him. She made sure to send him little treats, like jam, now and then.

The second Filipina (more than likely a mestiza) was Doña Elena Chabran. She was married to another Calvo, by the name of Bonifacio. He was a retired captain in the Spanish military. After Bonifacio died, Elena remained in the Marianas, marrying Don Juan de León Guerrero, who is described in records as a platero (silversmith) of Hagåtña. But he eventually moved to Saipan and became the Alcalde (mayor). Many of Doña Elena's descendants live in Saipan to this day.

I still need to get clear information on this, but family tradition also says that Elena also married Manuel Sablan Calvo, patriarch of the Yigo Calvos.

Elena Chabran's signature

Thursday, August 3, 2017


A Chamorro Girl

The American and British whalers who stopped on Guam in the 1800s often found many young Chamorro men very willing to join the crew. But, in one case, it was a young Chamorro girl that an American captain wanted.

Leonard Gifford was the captain of the whaling ship Hope. In 1862, the Hope sailed into Apra Harbor and stayed for some length of time. Gifford was accompanied by his wife Lucy Ann, who had given birth twice while on the high seas, sadly losing both children in infancy. By the time Gifford came to Guam in 1862, there was a young daughter Ella in tow.

While on Guam, Gifford made acquaintance with a Joaquín Iglesias of Hågat. Joaquín had a daughter aged 11 years by the name of Leocadia. We don't know if Iglesias made the offer first, or if Gifford made the request first, but the result was that Iglesias agreed to let Leocadia take up residence with Gifford wherever he may be, whether on Guam or elsewhere, to serve the Gifford family.  This isn't a surprise, since Gifford had a wife who was either pregnant or having just given birth. She needed help. The legal contract between Iglesias and Gifford stipulated four years of service, after which time Gifford was responsible for bringing Leocadia back to Guam.

Gifford was obliged to feed and clothe Leocadia, to treat her well and not prevent her from fulfilling the duties of her Catholic religion.

It seems that Gifford went off for a while, leaving Lucy Ann and Ella on Guam in the meantime. A Sydney newspaper reports that Gifford brought 1000 coconuts to sell in Australia. A son was born to him on Guam in November of 1863, and he was named Leonard Stanhope Gifford. His place of birth is indicated in this 1865 Massachusetts State Census. He is the 2nd name from the bottom.

1865 Massachusetts State Census

What happened to Leocadia?

Not long after the birth of his son on Guam in 1863, Gifford and family left the island. By 1865, the whole family was living in New Bedford, Massachusetts, including a 13-year-old girl born on Guam listed as Gorza. She is also listed as being black or brown in color. This is more than likely Leocadia, who would have been 13 going on 14 in 1865. Why is she called Gorza? It wasn't unusual for Chamorros to go by new names once they left the islands. They adopted names easier for their Caucasian bosses or masters to pronounce.

Imagine. A Chamorro teenage girl living in Massachusetts at the end of the American Civil War.

Gifford died in 1868 and Leocadia (Gorza) is not seen in any documents after 1865. Did she ever return to Guam? It's possible. But it's just as possible that Leocadia stayed in the U.S. till her death.

Leonard Gifford (left) 
Joaquín Iglesias (right)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Rosemond of KKMP radio station in Saipan does a great service announcing funeral arrangements in Chamorro.

I asked her to let me record her doing one and, since we needed a name of a deceased person, I had her use my late brother's name.

The script can be used by any funeral. Just the names, dates and places need to be changed. Here is the recording followed by the script.

Para u ma na' fan manungo' i familia, i man parientes yan man atungo'

(name of the survivor) na måtai i (relationship/spouse/child/etc) as (name of deceased)

gi (day of the week) na ha'åne, (month) dia (day), (year).

I difunto/a as (name of deceased) låhen/hagan (name of parents, better-known-as if applicable).

I Misan Intension ma ofrerese kada dia/pupuenge gi oran a la/las (time)

gi gima'yu'us (name of church) ya tinattitiye nu i Såntos Lisåyo.

I malaknos-ña yan i ma entieru-ña i difunto/a para i (day of week) na ha'åne,

(month), dia (day), (year).

Para ma esgaihon i tataotao i difunto/a ginen i (name of funeral home) gi oran a la/las (time)

gi ega'an/talo'åne/despues de talo'åne, ya para ma konne' guato para i gima'yu'us (name of church).

I Misan Entiero Kilisyåno para i oran a la/las (time) gi ega'an/talo'åne/despues de talo'åne

ya u tinattiye ni mahafot-ña gi sementeyon (name of cemetery).

I finatton-miyo yan i tinayuyot-miyo ma sen agradese.

Si Yu'us ma'åse' ginen i familia.


1. Rosemond pronounces Jude as Hoo - day as is said in Saipan. Remember that traditionally, in Chamorro, the J is sounded like an H, as in Jose, Juan and Joaquin.

2. Anunsio is the noun (announcement) and anunsia is the verb (to announce). Notisia can also be used but it specifically means "news."

3. Malaknos. Laknos means "to take out" or "bring forth," "put out." In terms of death, it means the time when the casket of the deceased leaves the mortuary.

4. Entiero means funeral service, usually a Mass.